City, county to seek proposals for jail site

Published 12:03 pm Friday, February 4, 2011

In a rare meeting between the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the county’s Board of Supervisors Thursday, support was echoed from both sides to enter into joint resolutions defining the future site of a new jail and a tighter qualifying deadline for school board elections, as well as to seek proposals for a new garbage collection contract.

Officials met at City Hall’s Annex building to discuss the three issues and agreed to advertise for proposals for a new jail to be built anywhere in the county before drafting the joint resolution and garbage collection contracts for city and county.

“This is your show and we’re here to support,” Mayor Paul Winfield told the five county supervisors. “Those of us who understand, understand there has to be a new jail facility. The jail we have right now is grossly inadequate and it has a modular style dating back to the 1950s or 1940s. That’s not safe for anybody that’s housed in a prison,” he said. “Anybody can complain about putting people up on the third floor when they have no working knowledge of what it takes to operate a facility of that type nor a concern for the liability of the county.”

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All agreed that proposals for available sites are needed before a resolution asking for a new jail anywhere in the county is submitted to the Legislature. The current law says a jail must be built within the city limits of a county seat.

“Until we take proposals, we’re not going to know what’s in the city and what’s in the county,” District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon said. “I think we need to take a shotgun approach and ask for what’s available, then we can narrow it down.”

County officials are looking to build a 350-bed facility on about 20 acres of land, allowing for the possibility of expanding to a 650-bed facility.

Also, city and county officials were on the same page about either renewing or changing current garbage pickup contracts, set to expire June 30.

City purchasing director Tim Smith and County Administrator John Smith are working to advertise requests for proposals for the best price for trash and rubbish pickup in the city and county.

Both share in the cost for using the same transfer station to satisfy the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, which mandates the legal dumping of trash.

Lastly, county officials has sought city support in drawing a resolution to switch school board elections from paper ballots to electronic ballots and changing the qualifying period for the five-seat Board of Trustees.

In order for the resolution to pass, the city, county and school board would need to sign on, and the city has offered its support.

No one from the school board was present, and officials decided to meet with school officials next week. No date has been set.

In addition to all city and county elected officials, others present included city attorney Lee Davis Thames Jr., city chief of staff Kenya Burks, City Clerk Walter Osborne, purchasing director Tim Smith, Vicksburg Police Deputy Chief John Dolan, County Administrator John Smith and county board attorney Randy Sherard.